Just as how it continuously strives to improve and extend people’s lives through medical innovations and breakthroughs, Swiss-based global medicines company Novartis is constantly finding new ways to create a nurturing workplace environment that engages, inspires and empowers its employees. Its progressive working culture in Singapore has been recognised in the inaugural Singapore’s Best Employers ranking this year. The survey was conducted jointly by The Straits Times and global research firm Statista.
Novartis Singapore has more than 1,000 associates working across divisions covering innovative medicines, generic and biosimilar medicines, the operation of two manufacturing plants, and its Asia-Pacific regional headquarters. It is a leader in clinical trials, finding better ways to treat or prevent diseases in the city-state.
Three Novartis Singapore associates give us a glimpse of their workplace culture.
Inspired by a purpose
In three years, Ms Jaspreet Kaur, 25, has seen her career blossom from being an intern to a full-time associate product manager, formulating marketing plans for ongoing and future product launches in the pharmaceutical portfolio to help healthcare professionals deliver the right therapy to the patients.
Regular meetings and catch-up sessions are a fixture in her work routines. Everyone is encouraged and inspired to share and build on ideas, contributing to a culture of openness and trust. “We think of what else we can do for patients. We are moving away from just marketing the product — we explore innovative solutions that will add value to patients’ lives and help doctors better cater to their patients’ needs. Putting patients at the centre of our plans drives us to do our best,” she says.
Novartis Singapore’s purpose-driven culture extends to the associates’ personal passions. Ms Kaur recounts how a group of associates’ passion for sustainable living led to the implementation of sustainable office initiatives and the company’s support for a two-day sustainability event to raise awareness, which she took part in.
Curiosity is encouraged
Novartis associates around the world are encouraged to devote 100 hours every year to learning. Novartis provides all associates company-sponsored access to online training programmes.
“The fact that the company has made learning open, accessible and purchased licenses for us to use to learn areas of business, or even topics that are of interest to us, such as history, artificial intelligence or data science, shows Novartis’ commitment to investing in its employees. It’s up to you to be curious and learn things that will expand your horizon,” says Mr Hazmi Hisyam, 31, head of legal for the Sandoz Asia cluster.
For two years, Mr Hazmi has been working with colleagues in other countries to ensure that programmes giving more people access to healthcare in different areas are successfully implemented and are compliant with the laws and regulations of the land.
Mr Hazmi himself has taken up a course that covers the foundations of financial accounting so that he can better understand the commercial side of the business. He says feeding this curiosity helps him understand the company and its purpose holistically.
Ms Sheryl Tay, 39, stepped up to a managerial position when she joined Novartis Singapore three years ago as a health, safety and environment team lead. Together with her team, they supervise over 500 workers at the manufacturing plants in Tuas.
Ms Tay says Novartis Singapore helped ease her transition from an executive to a managerial role by sending her to leadership programmes. The programmes changed her perspective on implementing workplace safety procedures, teaching her to go beyond the books. She has since led monthly cultural safety programmes that involve associates taking part in fun, immersive activities to enforce life-saving rules and safety culture onsite.
For her, creating an “unbossed” leadership culture means having open conversations with her team members and being approachable instead of feared. Since she works with a diverse team, inclusion is highly important to her too. She says diversity and inclusion activities like Racial Harmony Day and benefits such as equal parental leave and family care leave are much appreciated.
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